Family, food, travel, other obsessions.
We knew when we moved into this little yellow house almost eight years ago that it was the right house for us—it’s a 1913 Craftsman bungalow with built-ins and charm galore, on a quiet street, with lovely neighbors and good schools. But we also knew that it ideally needed another bathroom, another bedroom, better insulation, windows and storage, and probably stairs in a different place to accommodate new rooms upstairs.
An upcoming family reunion with 40-ish people this summer and the realization that GBones will be out of high school and on to other adventures in a mere four years combined as motivation to do the remodel now, and not later.
We began thinking, planning and dreaming long before we began demolition. The thinking was always dominated by the truth that we are not do-it-yourselfers. Which is not to say that we couldn’t be in another universe, just not in this one in which we both work 50- to 60-hour weeks. So we had to find people. Good, skilled, trustworthy people. We hoped they would also be pleasant.
The planning included an early consultation with an architect, whose services we purchased at a school auction. She gave us our first glimpse into the world of Why it Pays to Hire Professionals (the title of an article I should perhaps write someday soon). It was a wonder to watch her wield her tracing paper over our blueprint and magically conjure a new staircase and upstairs layout.
Sometime thereafter we began collecting contractor/builder recommendations from friends. This eventually led us to interview four. They all came highly recommended. One was very impressive but had never done a project as big as ours, and we didn’t want to be his first, so nope. Another told us what we wanted rather than listening to what we wanted at the very first meeting. Nope again. The third leaned in closely just a few minutes into our conversation and asked, “So, uh, are you planning to permit this project?” Ted and I quietly kicked each other under the table. Triple nope.
That meant that, in the end, the choice was simple: Renewal Remodels and Additions. (Prepare for gushing.) George Eide, president, and Troy Rideb, vice-president, were at our house two days after our initial inquiry call. Don’t they just look like people you’d trust your house to? They did to us. They still do. George is Norwegian. That’s probably why he’s practically perfect. Not sure how Troy pulls it off.
On that first visit George and Troy listened and listened some more, asked questions, and then walked the house and property with us. They thought out loud about some ideas they had and were unfailingly professional, positive and enthusiastic. Troy got a rough-sketch plan and estimate to us very quickly. They also provided references immediately, all of whom gave extremely positive reviews, and one of whom even invited us to their home to see the work Renewal had done for them. That little visit sealed the deal for us, since the owner was himself a retired contractor who had insisted on visiting several of Renewal’s job sites before hiring them. He could not say enough good about them or their work.
Our experience has been the same. Although no job the size of ours (adding 900+ sq. ft. and moving the staircase) could ever go off without some hitches, communication has been consistently open and straightforward. George has exacting standards and has overseen both the big picture and the smallest details. Troy has been very clear about pricing options and questions. Our two project supervisors, Nick and Pat, are gems and have quickly felt like part of our family. Our designers, Michelle and Carrie, seem to know everything or can find it out with a phone call. And Kathy in the office has smoothed bump after bump for us.
We are true fans.
It’s been quite a ride since we signed the contract with them, but never a dull or overly stressful moment. (That’s why we pay them.)
I know that many of you are eager for more pics of the progress, and Ted promises to head to Diagon Alley to retrieve them for me from the vault at Gringotts as soon as he remembers the password.
In the meantime, enjoy this closeup of our beloved porch, on back-to-school day 2006, with Grayson and Hal standing by the Good Luck pillar, which has a horseshoe leaned against the top on the back side. It came with the house. We’re not about to remove it. The horseshoe, that is. We’ll probably leave the pillar, too.